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 The Inabnet Reunion

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T'Pren Inabnet

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PostSubject: The Inabnet Reunion   Tue Jul 15, 2014 3:38 am

T'Pren got the lead shuttle back into the docking bay in record time, settling it down a little impatiently and racing through the checklist of things to shut down. She shoved her hands across her cheeks to make sure they weren't wet, no doubt smearing ash and grit across her entire face in the process. Part of her thought she ought to stop and clean her face, that seeing her fathers after so long meant she should look nice or at least not look like she walked through fire to get them. Though she would have.

She hopped out of the shuttle the moment she could and was already walking as quickly as possible through the corridors, her mind racing with what she would say or what she should do or how she should act or whether or not they'd even want her. She found herself worrying her bottom lip between her teeth and didn't bother to correct it, though that meant her mouth tasted like soot.

The half-Vulcan, on her way to a wall panel, tapped her comm to contact Sick Bay. "Inabnet to Doctor Zima. How are Ntembe and Humdav?" Without waiting for an answer, she pressed a button on the panel. "Computer, locate the rescued prisoners."

And then, finally, she hit her commbadge again. "Inabnet to Rai. Am I needed on the bridge, sir?" He could no doubt tell by her tone that she was desperate for him to say she was relieved.
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PostSubject: Re: The Inabnet Reunion   Tue Jul 15, 2014 9:39 pm

"No, you're dismissed for the rest of the day," he said, pausing. "You need to go see them."
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PostSubject: Re: The Inabnet Reunion   Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:00 pm

"Thank you," came T'Pren's rushed, breathy reply to the Captain over the commlink. "Thank you, sir. I will. I mean, I am." She sucked in a deep breath, glancing at her filthy, messy-haired post-battle reflection in the wall panel. She scrubbed uselessly at her face, only managing to thin the soot covering her skin.

"Non-critical refugees are being held in Cargo Bay 4," the computer's ever-calm voice answered her query.

The little halfie let out an audible exhale and squeezed her hands into fists to try to stop the shaking. This was it. "Cargo Bay 4," she whispered to herself. A nearby ensign glanced up in confusion, but Pren wasn't paying attention to anything but her feet moving down the hallway now. Had she asked Zima a question? Did he reply? Her brain was no longer focused on such trivialities. It had one purpose now: get to Cargo Bay 4.

The lieutenant didn't run to the turbolift, didn't even really pay attention to her trajectory. Her body was on autopilot all the way to the doors of CB4, which were bustling with activity as medical personnel came and went, attending to anyone who desperately needed it.

"Lieutenant?" asked a nurse with concern, seeing the singed places on her uniform and what probably looked like the tell-tale signs of shock. "Do you need medical assistance?"

T'Pren just shook her head. She hesitated outside the door long enough that another medic accidentally bumped against her.

"Sorry, Lieutenant!" they called.

It was duty -- the worry that she was in the way if she stayed where she was -- that finally propelled the ash-painted young woman into the holding area and slightly off to the side of the doors. Once again she searched desperately for signs of her fathers. Maybe she'd been mistaken. Maybe she was in need of medical assistance. She probably hallucinated the whole thing.

With a trembling hand, she reached up to touch her own forehead to check for signs of fever.
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PostSubject: Re: The Inabnet Reunion   Wed Jul 16, 2014 12:08 am

Zima's voice answered her inquiry, albeit a little late.

"Both patience are stable and unconscious. I am almost certain they will both completely recover."
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PostSubject: Re: The Inabnet Reunion   Wed Jul 16, 2014 12:14 am

Zima's voice was a welcome distraction from the constant flow of medics and prisoners. T'Pren was short -- too short to see over most of the heads in the room -- and it was taking what felt like forever for her to find her fathers' faces in the crowd.

"Thank you, Doctor," she replied, voice probably barely audible over the commlink with all the commotion around her. She hesitated and added, "Please let me know if you need any assistance." And she meant it...just not right this second.
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PostSubject: Re: The Inabnet Reunion   Wed Jul 16, 2014 7:23 pm

There in the crowd of dusty, coughing, weakened prisoners, were Adlai and Muroc. A young med student was administering a hypospray of vitamins to Adlai's throat when Pren spotted him.
"Pren, is that you?" he asked. Muroc stepped ahead of him and clasped her by the shoulders.
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T'Pren Inabnet

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PostSubject: Re: The Inabnet Reunion   Wed Jul 16, 2014 7:34 pm

She hadn't even realized that her feet were moving her toward her fathers before she got there, or at least got close. T'Pren froze a few yards away from Adlai, her breath making her chest rise and fall rapidly, and despite going over and over how this meeting might go between them for nearly half her life, she found herself completely silent when suddenly meeting Muroc's eyes.

So she stood, stupidly, staring into her father's dark Vulcan eyes with her green human ones, too shocked and too overwhelmed to even really change her facial expression. A fat tear rolled down one cheek and as the little halfie -- who now felt even smaller than usual -- lifted a hand to scrub it away, her palm instead reached up to touch Muroc's face. Her hand didn't find the familiar Vulcan shape. She wasn't looking to meld. Instead she wanted to trace every line, every imperfection, every delicate sweep of bone structure that made him who he was.
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PostSubject: Re: The Inabnet Reunion   Wed Jul 16, 2014 7:40 pm

Adlai pushed in, protectively clasping her in his arms. "Pren, we never thought we'd see you again. Look at how you've grown!" He brushed her hair back from her ears paternally and ran his fingers over the pips on her collar. "You're a Lieutenant! Muroc, she's a Lieutenant!" He said, beaming with pride.
"Yes, I see it Adlai," said Muroc smiling contentedly.
The young med student treating her fathers urgently tried to get her attention.
"Lieutenant," she said. "You shouldn't be here. Most of the prisoners need to be under quarantine. The Cardassians have infected them with an experimental virus."
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T'Pren Inabnet

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PostSubject: Re: The Inabnet Reunion   Wed Jul 16, 2014 7:50 pm

It was a lot, having them both there, smiling at her, proud of her, talking to each other and to her. T'Pren continued to stand helplessly, silently, as she was hugged and touched and protected. It wasn't until the medic spoke that she managed to even focus on anything with any kind of clarity and when she did, it was with her shoulders squared and her expression set determinedly. "Then I'm already exposed." And it most likely came from her originally anyway, though she didn't add that. "I'm sure Doctor Zima will need a hand in quarantine anyway."
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PostSubject: Re: The Inabnet Reunion   Wed Jul 16, 2014 8:26 pm

"I'm sorry Pren, we tried to tell them sooner," said Adlai. "We'll figure something out, just the three of us, like old times, right? Why don't you sit down with us and catch us up on your impressive career in Starfleet," he said, sitting her down on a nearby cargo crate. "I bet we can get some spiced tea sent in here just like when you were a little girl."
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T'Pren Inabnet

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PostSubject: Re: The Inabnet Reunion   Wed Jul 16, 2014 8:32 pm

T'Pren let herself be guided to a cargo crate and settled down on it, still apparently unable to figure out which expression she wanted to go with first. At least until Adlai mentioned spiced tea and the tiniest of smiles tugged at the corners of her lips. Because she did still drink spiced tea...but she took it a little stronger now. "I don't know what to say," she finally got out, her voice surprisingly hoarse and practically a whisper. Suddenly she realized just how soot-covered she was and immediately flushed green under the black smeared on her cheeks. "I'm filthy. I'm so sorry, I-- I should have--"

As though her brain was finally catching up with current events, one realization tripped over the other: "...I have to..." She sucked in a breath and tapped her comm badge. "Inabnet to Rai. We have a...situation."
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PostSubject: Re: The Inabnet Reunion   Wed Jul 16, 2014 8:35 pm

"Rai here, go ahead Lieutenant," he said, bracing himself.
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PostSubject: Re: The Inabnet Reunion   Wed Jul 16, 2014 8:38 pm

The half-Vulcan looked worriedly from one father to the other, taking in a deep breath in echo of the Captain's bracing for the news. "The Cardassians infected the prisoners with an experimental virus," she explained wearily. "I think we can both guess where it came from." She paused to let him digest the first bit of bad news.
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PostSubject: Re: The Inabnet Reunion   Wed Jul 16, 2014 8:43 pm

He heaved a sigh. "It seemed too easy, didn't it? No wonder they didn't put up much of a fight to keep them on the planet. I'll have lab equipment beamed to the cargo bay, we'll evacuate the deck of healthy people for the quarantine until this is resolved. Have the medical team send me a report."
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PostSubject: Re: The Inabnet Reunion   Wed Jul 16, 2014 8:49 pm

"Mm," T'Pren agreed, leaving another long pause in the conversation while she figured out how best to tell him why she was the one explaining about the virus instead of, say, Zima. Or a medic. Finally, she decided on, "I'm...going to be in quarantine as well, sir." But as soon as she said it, something massively important occurred to her: "...I do, however, have one of the best genetic engineers in the galaxy in here with me. And we have a doctor who doesn't have to worry about catching organic viruses." A beat, and then, with a sigh, "And I imagine I'm the origin anyway. So we have that going for us."
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PostSubject: Re: The Inabnet Reunion   Wed Jul 16, 2014 9:03 pm

"Then we have a head start, don't we?" said Rai, trying to direct Pren's attention to the positives. "If anyone can handle this, I believe it's you," he said.
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PostSubject: Re: The Inabnet Reunion   Wed Jul 16, 2014 9:07 pm

Once again beneath that ash-smeared face, T'Pren's pale skin turned distinctly green. And she gave just another little hint of a smile. "Thank you, sir," she replied softly. "We'll get to work as soon as we have the equipment."

Her Vulcan brows lifted at Adlai then and the smile grew just enough to brighten up her face. "And Captain? We're going to need some spiced tea."
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PostSubject: Re: The Inabnet Reunion   Wed Jul 16, 2014 9:16 pm

"I'll have a replicator beamed in as well," he said with a hint of a smile in his voice. "Zima should be over any time now. If there's anything else you need, let me know. Keep me posted on your progress," he said.
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PostSubject: Re: The Inabnet Reunion   Wed Jul 16, 2014 9:23 pm

"Yes, sir," T'Pren promised Rai, and when there was nothing left to say to the Captain, she let her hand drop from her comm into her lap. Fulfilling her duties as an officer, strangely enough, had calmed her down, let her brain catch up and begin to sort through her feelings and thoughts. So that when she looked at her fathers again, offering a smile weighted with the sadness of years of missing them, she knew exactly what she wanted to say.

"I had hoped we'd be able to spend our first day back together in my quarters. In private. There's so much I want to..." She shook her head and swallowed back tears. "But I don't think it would be wise for me to crawl into your laps and be held in a room full of my subordinates." She shoved the heel of her hand across her cheek to make sure any escaped moisture was smeared away.
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PostSubject: Re: The Inabnet Reunion   Wed Jul 16, 2014 11:29 pm

There was a heavy silence that followed, each member of the family working to solve the frustrations of being so close together after so long and yet unable to truly reunite. It was Muroc who came up with an answer first, reaching out one hand to beckon his daughter to him while the other separated its fingers in preparation. "Come, T'Pren," he requested, but both his husband and their child balked.

"Father, no!" gasped Pren, in unison with Adlai, who protested, "Muroc, no, you're too weak!"

Both Adlai and Muroc looked at Pren in surprise and dismay, although it was Muroc whose impassive Vulcan expression telegraphed his hurt.

"It's--it's not like that," Pren stammered immediately, dropping from her cargo crate to her knees and moving to sit by Muroc's feet. Her gaze looked pleadingly up at his as she shook her head. "I have nothing to hide. Not from you. But there are things..." She flushed green beneath the soot on her cheeks and frowned down at her knees, unable to make eye contact with either parent as she admitted, "There are things you don't want to see. Or at least...at least not yet. Not until you're stronger. Until I've had you back longer."

As work around the room giving hyposprays and tending to the prisoners began to run low, the medics and, in fact, some of the prisoners began to murmur to each other about the young science officer kneeling at the Vulcan refugee's feet. But if any of the three Inabnets noticed, they paid it no mind. They had attention only for each other.

It was all T'Pren could do to keep herself from sobbing when Muroc took the hand he meant to use in meld and rested it instead on her hair. Despite her earlier worries about seeming childlike or even more fragile than usual in front of her subordinates -- although she usually managed to stay outwardly strong when she was in charge -- she buried her cheek against her father's lap and closed her eyes.

Adlai and Muroc shared a look over their daughter's prone form that was simultaneously pained and joyful, and almost as one, they slid onto the floor on either side of her, protecting her with their larger bodies and holding her to them while she rested her face against Muroc's shoulder, hidden from prying eyes. The two men leaned their foreheads together and the three of them stayed that way for a very, very long time.

"There now, little dream," murmured Muroc, "your fathers have you."

Adlai's eyes shone fiercely as he promised, "And we'll never lose you again."
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PostSubject: Re: The Inabnet Reunion   Thu Jul 17, 2014 1:56 am

Containment fields were placed around the deck, and Rai had quickly beamed in all the lab equipment the geneticists would need; centrifuges, scanners, and microscopes were all ushered off to a discreet corner of the cargo bay, and the small replicator was immediately set to work making tea and all the other creature comforts that the prisoners had missed during their captivity.
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PostSubject: Re: The Inabnet Reunion   Thu Jul 17, 2014 2:21 am

It was with extreme reluctance that T'Pren, hearing the tell-tale signs of forcefields and transporter beams, pushed her hands across her face to dry her tears and began the work of disentangling herself from her fathers' arms. They all three of them let their limbs linger against each other for as long as possible until the half-Vulcan was standing and reached for her fathers' hands to help them to their feet. They had a considerably more difficult time than the young, able-bodied lieutenant and neither was particularly keen to let her help them in more than just gesture. When they had seen her last, she was a child and needed them. They hadn't yet had time to adjust to the idea that they might now need her as they aged.

Despite the fact that it made her look particularly young to be walking between her two fathers, holding their hands, Pren refused to let go, guiding them around medics and prisoners who watched them pass and occasionally commented to each other.

"Is this...?" asked an older Trill man as they wove past and Adlai gave him a friendly smile and gripped his shoulder with his free hand as he passed. "It is. Can you believe it?" Adlai beamed at Muroc, who ventured a shy Vulcan smile in return. Pren glanced up at Adlai curiously, but decided that now was not the time to ask. They'd reached the corner with the equipment and she let go of their hands so she could begin the work of pulling crates and dollies and any other unused surfaces over to make seats and tables for them. This time it was she who settled them down and made sure they were comfortable before going to grab a tray of three cups of steaming Vulcan spiced tea from the replicator. She set it down on the table between them and then knelt so that she could see both her fathers' faces.

"It's been fifteen years," she began gently, not wanting to hurt feelings or pride, "and there was a war. The technology's advanced a lot. It's mostly fundamentally the same and I think...I think it should be fairly intuitive, but if you don't..." She blushed under her soot.

While Adlai laughed, Muroc stood slowly and moved to the replicator himself, murmuring to it. Pren just looked confused. "Did I hurt...? I didn't-- I only meant to--"

Adlai's laughter softened into a smile and he reached out to tuck his daughter's hair behind her pointed ear. "No, you're right. We're old men now. And if we have any questions about this newfangled equipment, we will of course ask our beautiful Starfleet lieutenant daughter." T'Pren turned an even brighter green in response.

This was when Muroc returned, kneeling next to his daughter and beginning to wipe a warm, wet cloth across her cheek to clean the ash and filth away. Adlai laughed again, louder this time. "Muroc, you're going to embarrass her. She earned her dirt."
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PostSubject: Re: The Inabnet Reunion   Thu Jul 17, 2014 3:04 am

The look Muroc directed at Adlai was the kind that can only come from long, hard-fought years of relationship; it was loving and hurt and proud and knowing of both his faults and his husband's. "I want to see my daughter's face, Adlai," he said with what those closest to him would recognize as great feeling, but what the rest of the cargo bay would probably hear as typical Vulcan. Adlai's expression changed. He reached out a hand to caress the back of Muroc's neck in apology and the Vulcan closed his eyes at the touch, reining in his emotions.

T'Pren watched their interaction with eyes that were wet from the potential for tears that didn't fall. She clasped her hands around Muroc's, searching out his gaze with hers until they had a silent understanding. He let the cloth go into her hands as she pulled them from his and watched intently as she scrubbed her face with it. While she didn't quite manage to remove all the soot and grime, she did reveal her pale, mint green face for her fathers to examine. With a trembling smile, the Vulcan man smoothed his thumb across her cheekbone, wiping away a little black smudge that she'd missed. "There you are," he whispered.

Overcome, the slender halfbreed leaned forward to press her lips to Muroc's cheek and then stood, turning her back to the room to wipe her face free now of tears as well as dirt. And because this left her facing the equipment, she took a step toward it, reaching out to touch light fingertips to the scanning and sampling devices that would help her begin her work.
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PostSubject: Re: The Inabnet Reunion   Fri Jul 18, 2014 1:08 am

With the equipment there in front of her and her emotions threatening to overtake her, T'Pren did what she always did in these situations: she got to work. Her back stayed to her fathers and the cargo bay at large as she began to pull up the last scans and samples taken of her blood, tissue, DNA, and overall health by Doctors Ozan and Zima as well as her full medical record and the confessional report of Mila Tahain. She displayed the less sensitive information on the larger screens, setting them up next to each other for easy viewing and comparisons. With those in place, she pulled her tricorder from its holster on her uniform and began a full body scan of herself, sending the data directly to the computer to put up side by side with her clean previous information. She took a blood sample from her own neck with a practiced nonchalance and swabbed her inner cheek for a tissue sample. These she put in their proper equipment for analysis and DNA extraction and anything else she thought might be useful.

As she worked, the two men behind her sipped at their tea and watched her in silence for some time, studying her movements, her form, remembering her as a girl and memorizing her as a woman. Eventually, his voice soft enough for only Adlai to hear, Muroc leaned toward his husband and murmured with amusement, "She inherited your lack of height."

Adlai laughed, passing two fingers across the back of Muroc's hand in a Vulcan kiss. "I know," he agreed in a whisper. "Poor Pren. I'd hoped she would have a growth spurt."

Muroc quirked a brow, and joked dryly, "You should have spliced that in." And then, after a moment's thought and with quiet intensity, he admitted, "She is perfect. In my dearest imaginings, I never..." The Vulcan trailed off, shaking his head. Adlai twined their fingers together and they lapsed back into silence for another long moment. Finally, Muroc grumbled, "I want to hold her, Adlai. I have thought unendingly for fifteen years how useless it was to not always have her in my arms when she was small. And for what, some pretentious Vulcan convention about contact and mental intrusion and..." He drew a breath and stood slowly and resolutely from the table. "Help her fix this, Adlai. Get us out of quarantine so that I can hold our child."

Adlai stared at Muroc, taken aback by his quiet lover's vehemence and understanding of his every raw emotion. He stood as well, reaching up to touch the taller man's cheek and even going so far as to kiss the corner of his lips. "I will, my love," he swore, making steady eye contact so that Muroc could be sure of Adlai's intentions, of just how much they shared in those feelings. Something unspoken but deeply loving passed between them and Muroc's lips twitched upward.

"You will both need to eat," he declared, moving to the end of the small line of medics who had come to make food and drinks for the prisoners at the replicator.

Adlai watched his husband go with a morose but fond smile that he quickly shook away once he finally joined his daughter at the equipment. He slid his arm around her shoulders and pressed his nose against her dust-covered hair to breathe her in. T'Pren froze at the intensity of the touch and let her eyes flutter closed until her dad let her go. Only then did she up at him in question, her eyes wide with feeling.

"I was worried I had forgotten your scent," Adlai confessed, clearing his throat and shoving his hand over his cheeks to dry them in a mirror of her own earlier gestures. He quickly moved to change the subject. "Now then, my little Vulcan orchid, tell me where I should begin."

T'Pren's brows shot up in shock and scandal at the suggestion. "But, Dad, I--"

Adlai smiled at her and touched a fingertip to her nose. "You are a lieutenant of Starfleet and a science officer. An important one, I dare say, since your Captain believes in you so strongly. This is your ship and your lab. You call the shots. Got it?" Pren nodded a little helplessly and Adlai planted a light kiss where his finger had just touched. "Good. Now, Lieutenant. My orders?"

Despite herself, the half-Vulcan gave her father a slow, shy, but terribly pleased smile. "You have a lot to catch up on. So why don't you familiarize yourself with the files I've brought up and give me the usual samples. I'm going to talk to the medics about getting us what we'll need from the prisoners."

Adlai grinned broadly at his daughter. "Ay ay."
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PostSubject: Re: The Inabnet Reunion   Fri Jul 18, 2014 2:19 am

Still a little sheepish and uncertain, T'Pren returned Adlai's grin, the family resemblance obvious in the way it gathered their cheeks and twinkled in their matched green eyes. "I'll be back in a moment," she promised, the ache of leaving her fathers for even so short a time after just getting them back already twisting in her stomach. She stepped away from Adlai, who dutifully began to review the available information, just as Muroc returned from the replicator with their tray and three bowls of plomeek soup. He set it on the table and gave his daughter a look that said she was to eat it no matter how busy she got. "You have not touched your tea," he reminded her. T'Pren flushed green and obediently picked up her cooling cup. She was putting it to her lips for Muroc's benefit when her eyes went wide in horror and she spilled that spiced tea all down the front of her uniform as she whipped around and raced to put herself between Adlai and the screens. "Daddy, wait!" she breathed out in panic, no doubt sounding just as young as she felt. "There are things...things in the files that I...I'd rather tell you myself. Okay? I don't want you to just read them, so I...I'm going to redact some information and I need you to...I need you to only read what I tell you to. Please, Daddy?"

Adlai and Muroc both looked suitably horrified, the former finding his mouth gaping open as he tried and mercifully failed to imagine what could possibly be in there that was so horrible. "We love you no matter what," he explained gently, his confusion obvious. "Pren, your father and I aren't going to leave you again. No matter what's in that file. Is that...is that what you're...?"

Tears sprang up in the young woman's eyes but she blinked them away and shook her head. There was that fear somewhere, but it wasn't what she meant this time. "Please, Daddy. Your word," she insisted earnestly, needfully. Adlai gave small, reluctant nods. "Of course, sweetling. Of course you have my word. I'll only read what you tell me I can."

It was with great relief that T'Pren threw her arms around Adlai's broad shoulders and pressed her lips to his cheek. Adlai wrapped her in a bear hug, but over her shoulder he met Muroc's equally baffled and concerned gaze. When she pulled away, it was to immediately turn to the panel, leaving her empty cup to the side, and frantically rearrange the files on display. Finally, she pointed Adlai's attention to a particular screen. "This screen and no others, please, for now. And don't look at any data from before my assignment at Deep Space 15." Adlai studied his daughter with a deep frown, but nodded his ascent. Pren rested her forehead against his shoulder for just a moment in gratitude and then left him to the computers, refusing to look back to check if he was doing as he was asked. Because Adlai had always been a man of his word.

It was practically torture for him to keep to that one screen and to not investigate what had his little girl so frightened, but he did as she requested. His frown, though, stayed with him for quite some time. Eventually Muroc brought his soup to him and stood silently by his side, not looking at the screens at all, but furrowing his brow in solidarity with his partner.

T'Pren meanwhile, in her now tea-soaked, singed and burned and filthy uniform, sought out the highest ranking medic. "I'm going to need all the scans and information you've already gathered from the refugees," she instructed, pretending valiantly that the whole room hadn't been watching her cuddle with her fathers. "And then I'm going to need you to start gathering blood and tissue samples." Before the medic could protest, she held up a hand. "I know it's an enormous task. But I'm going to need every last one of them. Including from any Starfleet personnel exposed to the virus. We're going to require diversity first. We already have a Vulcan and a human, so start with one of each species represented, then make sure to get one from each sex from each species if we have them, and so on and so forth, working outward. Do you understand?"

"Yes, Lieutenant," the medic answered, already mentally calculating how to delegate the tasks among the officers and medics and students present.

"Thank you," T'Pren replied with sincerity. The medic opened her mouth, looking very much like she had a question or two of a more personal nature to ask, but decided against it and let her teeth click closed.

"The sooner we get this done, the sooner we get out of here," the half-Vulcan reminded the medic encouragingly. Then, with a deep breath, she finally looked back at her fathers, standing side by side by the equipment, a little more stooped than they once had been, graying and dirty and weary, but there. Really there. A smile blossomed across the science officer's face that she could not suppress.
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